A pickled and jarred giant squid has been stolen from the Natural History Museum of London and so begins the wild, tangent-ridden, and utterly delectable Kraken. Seers of London are predicting a fiery end of the world and to avert this the squid must be rescued. Gods of all stripes make appearances while the local police just muck everything up.
Kraken is quite a divergence from Mieville's last effort The City & The City, which was more of a somber and masterfully plotted police procedural. Word on the street is Mieville wrote both at the same time, which boggles the mind a little given how each feel like they weren't written on the same world let alone the same Universe. Kraken is a mad mix of China Mieville at his most weird with a pinch of Alan Moore on his a normal daily dose of acid with a healthy influence of Lovecraft to boot.
Kraken evokes the feel of a caper as the main characters are eluding many while in search of the missing squid and people responsibility for its disappearance. Given what I expect from Mieville nowadays I was actually quite bored for the first 70 pages and then all of a sudden Mieville brings the Weird in force and never lets up from there on introducing grotesqueries, out-there gods, wild concepts, and an inordinate amount of religious fanatics to the fray. Oh, and there are phasers! Can't forget the phasers. And yes they make sense as much as anything does in this story.
In Kraken nothing is true and everything is pure fact. Don't ponder that thought too much or you'll get lost in it. Mieville wants to create a sense of discomfort and surrealism from his readers, but with a bite of humor and satire about religion, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy in general. He also does cooler things with origami than even the best master out there. Kraken often reads as Mieville's bedside dream diary with constant apocalypses and flights of fancy taking off to dark, weird corners to bring his vision of London to light.
Everything boils to a fever pitch that doesn't disappoint, but will still leave you scratching your head weeks later wondering how the hell did Mieville pull that off? Kraken is Mieville's most accessible and fun adult work to-date even if it is a mess, but what a beautiful mess it is to behold. He wants us to wonder: Where the heck is this going? Then he'll change his mind and bring us along for the ride. The get is that he more than succeeds on that front. I give Kraken 8.5 out of 10 hats. Mieville is still a master of his craft, he just melts that craft to fit whatever fiendish mold his mind comes up with. Man, now I feel like some calamari.
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